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For most, the pending apocalypse is wisecrack fodder. For the small handful of scientists and science enthusiasts working furiously to debunk these theories, the humour leaked away long ago. They say the frightened people on their digital doorstep are, at best, a troubling indicator of the state of science education and critical thinking. At worst, they’re a public health concern. “It’s disturbing,” says NASA senior scientist David Morrison of the scared, sometimes suicidal questioners who have flocked to his blog, “Ask an Astrobiologist.”